A good understanding of political rhetoric
Assignment ID Number AFFGEHU83939HD Type of Document Essay Writing Format APA/MLA/Harvard Academic Level Masters/University References/Sources 4 References
A good understanding of political rhetoric
Americans are constantly bombarded by political rhetoric, particularly during election years. Presidential elections are hotly disputed. We still have many examples of political campaigning fresh in our memories. Much of this rhetoric seems empty and meaningless; what does it mean to say that “I’m for America,” or “I’m running on a platform of family values?” The purpose of this project is to help you learn about political rhetoric. You will learn to identify the different types of appeals, analyze political jargon, and consider how politicians use rhetoric to influence voters. A good understanding of political rhetoric is an absolute necessity for citizens in a democracy.
This project is designed to help you learn about rhetorical concepts like the three appeals (ethos, logos, pathos), and how rhetoricians cater their messages to a specific audience.
Write a 1000-1200 word rhetorical analysis with one primary source and two secondary sources. Below is a detailed description of what all this means and a step-by-step guide.
First off, note that a rhetorical analysis has three components:
- Artifact.This is the item that you will be analyzing. To be considered a “rhetorical” artifact, it must be designed to persuade someone to do something (example: TV commercials try to persuade a target demographic, say American adults suffering from allergies, to ask their doctors about a name brand allergy med). For this assignment, your artifact will be a TV commercial for a presidential election campaign (more on this later). A proper description of the artifact must include descriptions of these three items:
- The artifact itself.In the case of a TV commercial, what is shown on the screen? What kind of characters are there? Describe the music, colors, images, etc. Don’t assume readers have seen the commercial or will see it–describe it for them.
- The original context.When did the commercial air? What was going on politically at the time?
- The target audience. Who was the commercial designed to persuade? You can’t just say “Everyone” or “undecided voters.” Every advertisement has a particularaudience in mind, one whom the advertiser feels is susceptible to being persuaded. Maybe it’s targeted at older people, young voters, women, minorities, working class, the wealthy, etc.
- Theoretical framework.This is the rhetorical theory you’ll be using to analyze the artifact. For us, this is Aristotle’s rhetoric, which includes the terms Pathos (emotional appeal), Logos (logical appeal), and Ethos (credibility appeal). The theory and how to apply it is clearly explained in the textbook, Understanding Rhetoric, so read it carefully. Mention the terms you’ll be using (ethos, logos, etc.) and what they mean.
- Evaluation. After describing the artifact and your theoretical framework, you then apply the theory to the artifact to evaluate it. Remember, it doesn’t matter whether you find the commercial persuasive or whether the candidate actually won the election. All that matters is whether the commercial effectively reached its target audience at the time it was aired.
First, visit The Livingroom Candidate Website and browse the political commercials. You can also use a political commercial from YouTube or similar site, but I recommend the Livingroom Candidate because it provides some context and background information on the commercial that you will find helpful.
The commercial will be your PRIMARY source. The information you need to cite the commercial is available on the site–just click the “credits” button on the video to see it.
In addition to this primary source, you also need at least two SECONDARY sources to support your arguments or supply additional material. One of these sources should be your Understanding Rhetoric textbook. The other is up to you, but I suggest starting at the website usa.gov. For instance, a simple search for “John F. Kennedy election” turned up this helpful page about the election of 1960. Here is a list of sources recommended on the Livingroom Candidate site. You can also, of course, go to the library and easily find a book on the president, election, or historical era in question. However, be wary of citing obviously biased or prejudiced sources. A website funded by a political party or “action” group, for instance, will likely be heavily biased.
You must cite whatever additional materials you use in this project using MLA format. You can find information about citing sources in your textbooks or this page. Remember to use MLA, not APA!
Please note: You are not being asked to judge whether the values of the politician are right or wrong; you are judging whether the commercial is rhetorically effective in persuading its intended audience. You might disagree entirely with the commercial and its message; that’s fine. However, you should still be able to recognize if it was put together well and resonated with its intended audience.
The audience for this essay is more formal than the last. You must cite your sources and use academic terms such as “pathos” and “logos.” Avoid second-person (“you”), slang, and avoid sounding biased or preachy. I shouldn’t be able to guess whether you’re a Republican or Democrat by reading your analysis; if it’s done correctly (e.g., objectively), your own personal biases will be kept out of the paper.
Collaboration Bonus Option
Instead of working alone on this assignment, you may partner up with up to two other students in the class. You will need to form the group on your own (perhaps by posting a notice in the discussions part of this site), and then notify me with the name of each of your group members. You will get a 5% bonus for partnering up with one person, and 10% for two.
Your textbook Understanding Rhetoric very clearly explains what rhetoric is and how do a rhetorical analysis. You should read it carefully before submitting this assignment. You can also read this page on the wikibook.
Tips and Suggestions
Following are tips and suggestions for getting an A on this project.
Make sure your introduction has a solid thesis statement. For this paper, you can model your thesis statement along these lines:
- [Name of commercial] is rhetorically effective because __.
- The “Daisy” advertisement is rhetorically effective because it employs strong pathos appeals to frighten voters into supporting Johnson’s campaign.
- The “I Love America” advertisement was rhetorically effective because it firmly established Bush’s credibility as a politician and as a father.
- Dukakis’s “Tank” advertisement was not rhetorically effective because instead of solidifying the candidate’s credibility with the military, it turned him into a laughingstock.
One of the main reasons students lose points on this assignment is failure to cite sources. You may find information on Wikipedia or another website, but should never put it into your paper without citing it. For example:
The 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was one of the closest elections in the history of the United States.
This is considered plagiarism, because you didn’t cite where you got the information. You might think–well, I just happen to know that. But why should I take your word for it? In any case, it never hurts to mention where the information came from–it makes you look more credible as a scholar:
The 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was one of the closest elections in the history of the United States (JFK Presidential Library and Museum, “Campaign”).
You may be worried about where to find sources to use for this project. It can be a real challenge finding unbiased materials on political matters with Google. Can I really trust the JFK Presidential Library and Museum to be objective? Possibly, but I’d be better off finding a more neutral source, such as this book available at the SCSU library: The real making of the president : Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 election . I can trust this book, because it’s published by a University Press and thus underwent a peer-review process. Besides, most professors will be impressed that you took the trouble to go to the library instead of just relying on Google or Wikipedia like everyone else. It never hurts to make a great impression on a professor!
The SCSU Library has an easy-to-use search feature for finding books and online articles. Just make sure to look at a variety of articles to find the most useful and credible. If you’re having trouble finding material, use the Ask-a-Librarian Tool.
Sloppy MLA formatting will also cost you points on this assignment. If you’re unsure about your formatting, just go to the Write Place and ask for help. In addition to handouts, they can take you through the process step-by-step. Furthermore, you can do this online if you can’t travel to campus. There’s really no excuse to mess up your works cited page when so much help is freely available.
Put some thought into determining the target audience of the commercial. Many students skimp on this part, claiming that their commercial is “intended for everybody” and that there is no target. Consider whether the images, arguments, and even the music might resonate with some demographics better than others. For instance, a shot of someone hunting might be a way to reach out to NRA members, whereas shots of solar panels shows an appeal to environmentally-conscious people. A commercial that repeatedly shows traditional families is probably appealing to social conservatives.
Remember that this is a rhetorical analysis, and you will be penalized if you do not use rhetorical terms (ethos, logos, pathos, kairos, etc.) when analyzing your commercial. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to watch my lectures associated with rhetoric and read the chapters on it in Understanding Rhetoric. Losh’s book is required for this essay; cite and use it accordingly.
QUALITY OF RESPONSE NO RESPONSE POOR / UNSATISFACTORY SATISFACTORY GOOD EXCELLENT Content (worth a maximum of 50% of the total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 20 points out of 50: The essay illustrates poor understanding of the relevant material by failing to address or incorrectly addressing the relevant content; failing to identify or inaccurately explaining/defining key concepts/ideas; ignoring or incorrectly explaining key points/claims and the reasoning behind them; and/or incorrectly or inappropriately using terminology; and elements of the response are lacking. 30 points out of 50: The essay illustrates a rudimentary understanding of the relevant material by mentioning but not full explaining the relevant content; identifying some of the key concepts/ideas though failing to fully or accurately explain many of them; using terminology, though sometimes inaccurately or inappropriately; and/or incorporating some key claims/points but failing to explain the reasoning behind them or doing so inaccurately. Elements of the required response may also be lacking. 40 points out of 50: The essay illustrates solid understanding of the relevant material by correctly addressing most of the relevant content; identifying and explaining most of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology; explaining the reasoning behind most of the key points/claims; and/or where necessary or useful, substantiating some points with accurate examples. The answer is complete. 50 points: The essay illustrates exemplary understanding of the relevant material by thoroughly and correctly addressing the relevant content; identifying and explaining all of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology explaining the reasoning behind key points/claims and substantiating, as necessary/useful, points with several accurate and illuminating examples. No aspects of the required answer are missing. Use of Sources (worth a maximum of 20% of the total points). Zero points: Student failed to include citations and/or references. Or the student failed to submit a final paper. 5 out 20 points: Sources are seldom cited to support statements and/or format of citations are not recognizable as APA 6th Edition format. There are major errors in the formation of the references and citations. And/or there is a major reliance on highly questionable. The Student fails to provide an adequate synthesis of research collected for the paper. 10 out 20 points: References to scholarly sources are occasionally given; many statements seem unsubstantiated. Frequent errors in APA 6th Edition format, leaving the reader confused about the source of the information. There are significant errors of the formation in the references and citations. And/or there is a significant use of highly questionable sources. 15 out 20 points: Credible Scholarly sources are used effectively support claims and are, for the most part, clear and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition is used with only a few minor errors. There are minor errors in reference and/or citations. And/or there is some use of questionable sources. 20 points: Credible scholarly sources are used to give compelling evidence to support claims and are clearly and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition format is used accurately and consistently. The student uses above the maximum required references in the development of the assignment. Grammar (worth maximum of 20% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 5 points out of 20: The paper does not communicate ideas/points clearly due to inappropriate use of terminology and vague language; thoughts and sentences are disjointed or incomprehensible; organization lacking; and/or numerous grammatical, spelling/punctuation errors 10 points out 20: The paper is often unclear and difficult to follow due to some inappropriate terminology and/or vague language; ideas may be fragmented, wandering and/or repetitive; poor organization; and/or some grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors 15 points out of 20: The paper is mostly clear as a result of appropriate use of terminology and minimal vagueness; no tangents and no repetition; fairly good organization; almost perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage. 20 points: The paper is clear, concise, and a pleasure to read as a result of appropriate and precise use of terminology; total coherence of thoughts and presentation and logical organization; and the essay is error free. Structure of the Paper (worth 10% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 3 points out of 10: Student needs to develop better formatting skills. The paper omits significant structural elements required for and APA 6th edition paper. Formatting of the paper has major flaws. The paper does not conform to APA 6th edition requirements whatsoever. 5 points out of 10: Appearance of final paper demonstrates the student’s limited ability to format the paper. There are significant errors in formatting and/or the total omission of major components of an APA 6th edition paper. They can include the omission of the cover page, abstract, and page numbers. Additionally the page has major formatting issues with spacing or paragraph formation. Font size might not conform to size requirements. The student also significantly writes too large or too short of and paper 7 points out of 10: Research paper presents an above-average use of formatting skills. The paper has slight errors within the paper. This can include small errors or omissions with the cover page, abstract, page number, and headers. There could be also slight formatting issues with the document spacing or the font Additionally the paper might slightly exceed or undershoot the specific number of required written pages for the assignment. 10 points: Student provides a high-caliber, formatted paper. This includes an APA 6th edition cover page, abstract, page number, headers and is double spaced in 12’ Times Roman Font. Additionally, the paper conforms to the specific number of required written pages and neither goes over or under the specified length of the paper.
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